With everything that’s been going on over the last couple of months with the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s looking more and more like large scale live events will be gone for longer than anticipated. If one health advisor is correct, that time frame could be as late as fall 2021.
Dr. Ezekiel “Zeke” Emanuel, a key architect of the Affordable Care Act and special advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), told the New York Times that large-scale gatherings might not be safe for another 18 months. That means we might not see concerts rescheduled until September or October of 2021.
According to Dr. Emanuel, restarting the economy needs to be done in stages and large gatherings are not at the top of the list.
“Restarting the economy has to be done in stages, and it does have to start with more physical distancing at a work site that allows people who are at lower risk to come back. Certain kinds of construction, or manufacturing or offices, in which you can maintain six-foot distances are more reasonable to start sooner. Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest. Restaurants where you can space tables out, maybe sooner.”
His prediction is based on what has happened in other countries, who have seen resurgences in the virus after trying to restart events too early.
“In Hong Kong, Singapore and other places, we’re seeing resurgences when they open up and allow more activity. It’s going to be this roller coaster, up and down.”
Part of what could dictate when things come back is our capacity for testing.
“The question is: When it goes up, can we do better testing and contact tracing so that we can focus on particular people and isolate them and not have to reimpose shelter-in-place for everyone as we did before?”
Some in the concert industry have been underestimating how long it will take to defeat the virus. There are artists and events rescheduling for as early as this summer and fall.
It’s understandable why the concert industry would want to come back as soon as possible. With cancellation after cancellation putting thousands out of work and wondering when their next paycheck will come, people want things to go back to normal. However, this timeline might just not be realistic.
Dr. Emanuel isn’t the only upper-level doctor concerned about a resurgence of COVID-19 down the road. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the President’s coronavirus response team Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking on when schools might reopen, predicts that a new wave of the virus could hit around the fall, though he also believes we will have better ways to attack and isolate an outbreak by then.
The best way to prevent a resurgence is for everyone to do their part and continue social distancing. Until it is safe to gather and go to work once again, we’ll have to take solace in the countless artists who have been live streaming and uploading full concerts to the internet, bringing the live show into everyone’s individual living rooms.